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Ciaran inspired by brotherly example

Guinness PRO12 Editor

10 Oct 2011

Leinster rising star Ciaran Ruddock doesn’t have to look far for advice as he makes the transition from second to back row.

For starters there is his old man: Mike Ruddock who just so happens to have won the Grand Slam with Wales in 2005 as well as coaching spells in charge of Leinster and Newport Gwent Dragons.

Then there is his younger brother: Rhys Ruddock, who has been captaining Leinster in the first few weeks of the RaboDirect PRO12and made his international debut for Ireland last summer.

Against Aironi it was a family affair, as the Ruddock brothers both started in the back row with Mike watching in the stands as the pair helped the European champions to a 26-7 victory.

And Ciaran, 22, admits having his brother to assist him on the pitch and his father to give him feedback off the pitch has been invaluable to hid development.

He said: “I was delighted to get the opportunity to play for Leinster first and foremost, and to play with Rhys was an extra bonus.

“I have played with him before but never in the back row together so that was a strange experience.

“I know how lucky I am to have Rhys and my dad, who goes through all my games with me. He was a big influence along with the Leinster coaches about switching to the back row.

“I know I am not the finished article so I am happy to go through my game and take on all the feedback I can.

“I am very close to Rhys and there was never too much fighting when we were growing up because we were more or less the same size.

“He is a fantastic role model. He works exceptionally hard at his game. He has been captain of Leinster and that is brilliant to see.

“He has always been very generous with his time and giving me advice.”

The Ruddock household was divided last week when Wales clashed with Ireland in the World Cup finals.

Despite both being Irish-born, the brothers learnt their rugby in Wales and were involved in the Ospreys academy, before switching over the Irish Sea to Leinster.

“There were split loyalties,” added Ruddock. “As much as I support Ireland and consider myself Irish, I spent a lot of time in Wales so it was hard to watch.”

Ireland’s exit will see the likes of Shane Jennings, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip return to Leinster to compete for places in an already crowded back-row. 

With each shirt up for grabs it could also directly pit Ciaran and Rhys against each other.

But the older sibling, who went toe-to-toe with Aironi’s Italian international Josh Sole in only his second appearance for the province, has no regrets over his decision to convert from a lock to a flanker.

He added: “Being 6ft 4in there are not many second rows who are shorter than me. When I first came into the academy I was not quick or fit enough to play in the back row but in the last two years I have been working really hard on my strength and conditioning. It has helped me so much.

“It is partly about changing habits. As a second row, I was looking to take on people and doing the dirty work.

“As a six you have to hold out and be more dynamic when you carry the ball. A second row is more around the fringes.

“Playing against Aironi was my first start as a back-rower and I was up against an international player in Josh

“It is fantastic to play against someone of that calibre. I have to work hard to match up to guys like that, but that’s the level I want to be at.

“You have Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings, Kevin McLaughlin, Dominic Ryan as well as Rhys who are all fantastic players. You have to do your best to constantly push them and try to take their place.”